Sunday, September 24, 2006

CUSTOM

Bedtimes, her father used to persistently
Tuck her willful hair away, behind her ears.
Now, if long-lost cousins, suitors, fashion editors
Replicate the fond slide of fingers in her hair,
Her face brightens because it reminds her of him
And then they’ll say,
You look much better with your hair out of the way.

Nights, she nestles in her five-year-old’s bed
Smoothing his beloved, primitive brow,
He ponders his unknown father, an unseen God.
Takes her arms, wraps them around himself
And wonders what she would have done
If he wasn’t there. Here. Her son.

I wouldn’t have any reason to be happy, she says.
He’s horrified even when he supposedly doesn’t exist
And yells: don’t say that.
Tucks her hair back
Tilts his rounded chin
Solemnly kisses her brow;
Feels like a blessing.


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